Waiver Worthy: Searching The Wire For Options To Replace The Injured Matt Olson


Friday the bad news about the A’s Matt Olson broke, as he required surgery to remove the hamate bone in his wrist.  While there is no definitive timeline, it’s safe to assume about 6-8 weeks before we see him again.  Even once he returns it’s fair to wonder exactly what we are going to get, as this type of injury is notorious for robbing hitters of their power.  Maybe Olson can be the exception to the rule, though we wouldn’t necessarily bank on it, but regardless we have to find a replacement for two months.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at potential waiver wire targets who are owned in less than 65% of both ESPN and CBS formats:

Josh Bell – Pittsburgh Pirates
CBS Sports – 62%, ESPN – 60.0%

If you are lucky enough to find Bell sitting on your waiver wire do not hesitate to scoop him up.  One of our favorite buy low options this season, Bell is coming off a disappointing 2018 campaign (.261 with 12 HR).  There’s a lot of upside potential, however, as even during his struggles he showed a strong approach:

  • SwStr% – 9.7%
  • O-Swing% – 26.7%
  • Oppo% – 28.6%

All it would take is a little bit more luck (.305 BABIP) and a strong average is easily attainable (as it is he posted a .357 OBP in ’18).  Throw in a rebound in his power, back into the 20+ HR range (he had 6 HR over the final two months, which alone would project to 18 HR for the season), and there’s a lot working in his favor.  Let others ignore him and reap the benefits.

Trey Mancini – Baltimore Orioles
CBS Sports – 28%, ESPN – 55.0%

It’s easy to overlook Mancini, and playing in Baltimore it’s not a complete surprise.  He’s not a can’t miss, because there are questions: 

  • Despite hitting 24 HR in back-to-back seasons, fly ball rates of 29.7% and 26.5% don’t scream power surge
  • His approach appeared mediocre, with an overall 12.7% SwStr% and 34.4% O-Swing%

Look no further than August, when he hit .291 with 7 HR, as a reason for some optimism.  During that month he saw his fly ball rate rise (37.1%) and he was hitting the ball extremely hard (43.8% Hard%).  While he may not be able to maintain those numbers over an entire season it shows his potential, especially having improved his approach against both breaking balls (Whiff% of 19.16% to 15.31%) and offspeed pitches (23.99% to 17.16%).

Jake Bauers – Cleveland Indians
CBS Sports – 48%, ESPN – 57.3%

There are questions about his playing time, as the additions of Carlos Gonzalez (OF) and Hanley Ramirez (1B/DH) add alternatives.  Even then there are questions about who is going to fill the outfield spots, and a strong performance should lead to Bauers being out there every day.

In OBP formats he’s an easy target if he’s there, after posting a 13.9% walk rate, and he should improve his average thanks to an improvement in his strikeout rate (26.8%) and overall luck (.252 BABIP despite a 40.5% Hard%).  Throw in some power (45 doubles, 1 triple and 18 HR over 797 PA at Triple-A) and speed (30 SB at Triple-A) and there’s enough upside potential.

Brandon Belt – San Francisco Giants
CBS Sports – 34%, ESPN – 10.7%

It feels like Belt has been around forever, and at times he’s shown the upside.  However injuries have continued to plague him (under 400 AB in each of the past two seasons), and that has helped to give a negative outlook in general.

Couple that concern with a mediocre average (.241 and .253 in each of the past two seasons) and it’s easy to be down on him.  However he’s hit the ball extremely hard (Hard% of 38.4% and 41.5%), makes enough contact (career strikeout rate of 23.8%) and has shown plenty of power (45 doubles, 5 triples and 32 HR over the past two seasons). 

There’s going to be risk, but while he’s healthy he’s worth utilizing.

Deep League Option
Peter O’Brien – Miami Marlins

CBS Sports – 6%, ESPN – 0.4%

O’Brien is hardly an ideal option, but he’s going to be in the Marlins lineup and brings ample power potential.  The question is going to be whether or not he can make enough contact to stay in the lineup, as well as if he can handle the outfield defensively.  Considering his 19 K over 41 AB this spring, it’s hard to believe he’s going to last long though time will tell.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, CBS Sports, ESPN


    • He’s a significant regression risk and could easily lose PT to Greg Bird. He definitely isn’t someone I’d be targeting

  1. Thanks Professor. All of these guys are taken in my (deep) league. I’m looking at Hunter Dozier, Wilmer Flores, and Neil Walker as options. I guess there is also Dominic Smith but I worry about Alonso. Thoughts?

    • fwiw (and maybe not much) – there will be a mini-revolt among Mets fans if Dominic Smith is starting over Alonso, who has clearly outperformed Dom both in the minors and this spring training. Dom has had a good spring, but his ISO is still meager. The Mets don’t need an all-singles 1B, and they clearly lack RH power in the lineup. The Mets GM also expressed his desire to see Alonso as the opening day first baseman – that was back in December, and Alonso has had a very strong spring. The Mets have also said they are bringing the best 25 man team north and that service time wouldn’t prevent Alonso from being on the roster, and that even if Dom and Alonso are among that group, there won’t be a platoon situation at first.

      All of this points to Alonso being the opening day 1B. Now, will the Mets turn around and do something completely illogical based on everything they’ve previously said? That unfortunately is an absolute possibility. But like I said, there will be a mini-revolt among fans if Dom is out there instead of Alonso.

    • I agree Mets fans would revolt, but that doesn’t mean it would surprise me if Smith got the nod (or at least shared time).

      As for the three options you listed…. I guess I’d go Walker but not of them are overly appealing

  2. I need to pick up on SP to replaced injured Hill and Heany but and can only make one move from M. Gonzales, B. Woodruff and J. Tehran. Which would be the best choice?

    • I don’t like ay of them….lol I guess I’d lean Teheran, but I’d much rather play matchups (though that doesn’t sound like it’s possible)

  3. Unfortunately O’Brien just got sent down. Can’t believe it… apparently even the Marlins can’t stand his Joey Gallo act.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here